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News from the Votemaster

Employment Up But Unemployment Also Up

Yesterday's report on employment was something of a mixed bag. Unemployment is up 0.1% to 7.9% compared to last month, but the economy added another 171,000 jobs. From the chart below (from the Maddow blog), it is clear that the recovery is continuing, albeit at a slower pace than many people would like.

Jobs report

Analysts think that on the whole the report will help Obama since 171,000 new jobs sounds more impressive than a 0.1% increase in the unemployment rate--which was caused by thousands of previously discouraged workers now looking for jobs and not all of them finding one.

Ethnic Mix of the Electorate May Determine the Winner

In 2008, John McCain beat Barack Obama by 12 points among white voters, 55% to 43%. Obama more than made up for that with overwhelming edges among black voters (95% to 4%) and Latino voters (67% to 31%). The most recent WaPo/ABC national poll put Romney's lead over Obama with whites at 57% to 39%. This is 6% worse than in 2008. On the other hand, Obama's margin of victory in 2008 was about 7%, so if he is doing 6% worse with 3/4 of the voters, that would explain why the race is fairly close nationally. If Obama can do as well with the minorities as last time, that might be just enough to barely win the popular vote.

Early Results from Ohio on Election Day May Be Misleading

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has outlined how the results will be released next Tuesday from this make-or-break swing state. The polls close at 7:30 P.M. At 8:30 P.M. he will announce the results of the absentee ballots. About 1.3 million were sent out and 72% of them have already been cast. Absentee ballots are not a good indicator of how things are going except when compared to previous years' absentee ballots.

Once the precincts begin reporting, he will release reports from the big counties every 15 minutes, from the medium-sized counties every 30 minutes, and from the small counties every hour. If the election is close (less than 0.25% between the candidates), there will be a recount on Nov. 27. That might keep the country in suspense for 3 weeks. In addition, there could be hand-to-hand combat over provisional ballots. It is for good reason the election administrator's prayer is: "Lord, let it be a landslide."

Republicans Are Praying for Rain on Election Day

Although most people in the Northeast have seen enough rain recently, Republican strategists would like one more day of it, preferably concentrated in the swing states. A study in the Journal of Politics of elections from 1948 to 2000 showed that for every inch of rainfall above the local average for election day, Republicans got a boost of 2.5%. The reason is that low-income minorities, for whom voting is often a chore, frequently decide to skip voting if it is raining hard. A recent poll showed that 28% of Obama supporters said bad weather would impact whether they vote or not. Only 19% of Romney supporters said this.

Outside Groups Spent Half a Billion Dollars in October

An analysis by Politico estimates that groups other than the campaigns dropped over $500 million on political spending just in the month of October. Topping the list are Karl Rove's two groups, American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS and Mitt Romney's superPAC, which has received tens of millions of dollars from Sheldon Adelson. Together they spent $173 million last month, nearly all of it on negative television ads targeting President Obama. The three biggest Democratic superPACs spent a combined total of $76 million October. All in all, a total of 57 different organizations each spent over $1 million in October, mostly attacking Democrats.

Probe into Voter Registration Fraud in Virginia Widens

When workers at the now-defunct ACORN, which registered low-income voters, committed fraud by making up false registrations, the Republicans correctly screamed that the law was being broken. There was no evidence that either ACORN itself was aware of these crimes or that any of the imaginary people ever voted. Nevertheless, the Republicans certainly had a valid point: A Democratic-oriented organization had broken the law.

Now the shoe is on the other foot. A young, ecologically aware, Pennsylvania man, Colin Small, has been arrested for registering Virginia voters and then throwing registration forms in a recycling bin where someone found them and reported this to the police. The company Small was working for, Strategic Allied Consulting, was doing this work for the Republican Party of Virginia. It is run by a long-time Republican operative, Nathan Sproul. State authorities are now curious whether Small was simply too lazy to turn in the forms or was instructed by his superiors to first determine the political identity of each new registrant and then throw out the forms of the Democrats. Also of interest is the payment model here. If Small was paid per voter he registered, he would have every incentive to turn in every form. If, however, he was paid only for Republicans he registered and was following instructions, his actions might be more understandable. The case is ongoing.

Betting Site Has Romney as the Favorite--in 2016

Successful people plan ahead, so maybe now is the time to place your bets on the 2016 election. The Irish betting site Paddy Power is now accepting bets on the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Mitt Romney is leading the pack, with odds of 4.5 to 1, followed by Paul Ryan at 7 to 1 and then Hillary Clinton at 8 to 1. Following the top three, in order are Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Andrew Cuomo, Bobby Jindal, and Rob Portman. The two people with the longest odds are Sarah Palin (66 to 1) and Donald Trump (100 to 1). The astute bettor can no doubt make some money here.

As to betting on the 2012 election, puts the odds of an Obama win at better than 2 to 1.

Are Pollsters Asking the Wrong Question?

A typical presidential poll has as its heart a fairly direct question: "Who are you going to vote for?" According to a new study, however, it may be the wrong question. The right one may be: "Who do you expect to win?" The beauty of the latter question is that it turns the respondent into a minipollster by asking him or her to take into account the views of other people. If someone supports candidate A but knows mostly people supporting candidate B, maybe answering "B" to the question gives what is, in effect, a larger sample. The study suggests that this question actually has a better track record than the more direct one.

Today's Presidential Polls

Florida and Virginia are still tied. Our averaging window for Florida is now using 10 polls from 9 pollsters and the score is 48% for Obama and 48% for Romney. Of the 10 polls, Obama led in five, trailed in three, and was tied in two. It looks like it is going to right down to the wire in Florida.

In Virgina, there are six polls within the 7-day polling window we use, and the candidates are tied at 47% each. Of the six polls, Obama led in four and trailed in two. What is noteworthy here is that most of the polls show Constitution Party candidate Virgil Goode getting 1-2% of the vote. These are votes that would probably have otherwise gone to Romney. If Obama wins Virginia by 1% or less, he can thank Goode. If Obama loses Ohio but wins the election on the basis of Virginia and a couple of small states, like Nevada, Iowa, and New Hampshire, he really ought to send an expensive bouquet of fresh flowers to Goode.

In Colorado, the average of seven polls put the score at 47% to 47%. Obama has led in three of these polls and Romney has been ahead in four of them. It looks like the real battle is going to be for Florida, Virginia, and Colorado, although if Obama can win Ohio and some of the small states, he can afford to lose all three of these and still eke out a tiny victory.

State Obama Romney   Start End Pollster
Colorado 47% 45%   Oct 28 Oct 31 SurveyUSA
Connecticut 55% 42%   Nov 01 Nov 02 PPP
Florida 45% 51%   Oct 30 Nov 01 Mason Dixon
Florida 49% 47%   Oct 31 Nov 01 Marist Coll.
Hawaii 61% 34%   Oct 24 Oct 26 Merriman River Group
Indiana 41% 51%   Oct 28 Oct 30 Howey-DePauw
Massachusetts 57% 42%   Nov 01 Nov 02 PPP
Maine 55% 42%   Nov 01 Nov 02 PPP
Michigan 52% 47%   Nov 01 Nov 01 Rasmussen
Minnesota 53% 44%   Oct 31 Nov 01 PPP
Nebraska 40% 54%   Oct 23 Oct 25 Wiese Research Assoc.
New Hampshire 50% 44%   Oct 29 Oct 31 New England College
Ohio 49% 49%   Nov 01 Nov 01 Rasmussen
Ohio 50% 47%   Oct 30 Nov 01 ORC International
Ohio 51% 45%   Oct 31 Nov 01 Marist Coll.
Oregon 52% 46%   Oct 31 Nov 01 PPP
South Dakota 42% 50%   Oct 28 Oct 31 Nielson Bros.
Utah 26% 69%   Oct 26 Nov 01 Dan Jones

Today's Senate Polls

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
Connecticut Chris Murphy 52% Linda McMahon 43%     Nov 01 Nov 02 PPP
Florida Bill Nelson* 52% Connie McGillicuddy 43%     Oct 31 Nov 01 Marist Coll.
Indiana Joe Donnelly 45% Richard Mourdock 42%     Nov 01 Nov 01 Rasmussen
Indiana Joe Donnelly 47% Richard Mourdock 36%     Oct 28 Oct 30 Howey-DePauw
Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren 47% Scott Brown* 49%     Oct 31 Nov 01 Kimball Political Consulting
Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren 52% Scott Brown* 46%     Nov 01 Nov 02 PPP
Maine Cynthia Dill 12% Charlie Summers 36% Angus King 50% Nov 01 Nov 02 PPP
Montana Jon Tester* 49% Denny Rehberg 48%     Oct 29 Oct 29 Rasmussen
New York Kirsten Gillibrand* 50% Wendy Long 45%     Oct 31 Nov 01 Marist Coll.
Utah Scott Howell 26% Orrin Hatch* 63%     Oct 26 Nov 01 Dan Jones
Wisconsin Tammy Baldwin 48% Tommy Thompson 48%     Oct 29 Oct 29 Rasmussen

* Denotes incumbent